Historic studio sets up in smoke

They say Rome wasn’t built in a day. I imagine the outdoor sets at Universal Studios weren’t either. But it was sad to see them come tumbling down in day — less than that — due to fire.

When I read the list of movies and television programs those sets were used for, I realized I’d seen that background (without knowing it) many, many times… from Leave it to Beaver and To Kill A Mockingbird to Back to the Future and Spider-Man.

Also lost in the blaze were old films and videos. As one newspaper reported: A heavy mushroom cloud of black smoke blanketed skies over the park, and the stench of burning videos and other combustibles hung in the air.

Stephanie, an Antique Trader reader interested in film preservation, had this to say about the disaster: “I wasn’t surprised to read about the huge flames and the toxic fumes, since old, chemically unstable film is so combustible. No wonder the flames looked like a mushroom cloud! There was a shortage of water, but I think the firefighters probably needed something other than water to put out the chemical film fires.”

Are you a film collector or movie buff, too? Stephanie, who lives in Long Beach, Calif., suggests you check out these Web sites to learn more about the fire: www.presstelegram.com and www.latimes.com.

Thanks for the insider report, Stephanie!